Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Hour of the Wolf

You probably know exactly when that is. If you don't - you're one of the lucky ones. For the rest of us, the "Hour of the Wolf" tends to happen when the rest of the world is asleep. Deep in the darkest reaches of the night (she typed, rather liking the dramatic nature of that phrase.)

I first heard it used by a character on television. Babylon 5 was must-see tv from the get-go, a brilliant concept created by an awesome writer - J. Michael Straczynski - which managed to get backing for the entire multi-year plot arc. No mean feat in the days of ratings, income generation and programming executives who thought the Golden Girls were close to Shakespearean in tenor.

Susan Ivanova was a fascinating blend of arrogance, competence and femininity. An officer aboard Babylon 5, she was given to the rapid acerbic comment and pointed out on several occasions that when it came to suffering she had everyone else beat, being both Jewish and Russian. She has more than a few memorable quotes: "No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow." "I will twist your head off and use it for a chamberpot." and so on. Great stuff!!! (And thanks to the Civ Fanatics who had this great photo of Susan on their blog!)

One of her more intense moments was a description of "The Hour of the Wolf". I found the actual dialogue.


"My father told me about it. It's the time between three and four in the morning. You can't sleep, and all you can see is the troubles and the problems and the ways that your life should've gone but didn't. All you can hear is the sound of your own heart. I've been living in the hour of the wolf for seven days, Lyta. Seven days. The wolf and I are now on a first-name basis. ... In times like this, my father used to take one large glass of vodka before bed. To keep the wolf away, he said. And then he would take three very small drinks of vodka, just in case she had cubs while she was waiting outside. It doesn't work."


I found that scene strangely moving, and Susan's description of those bleak hours has stayed with me since then. It fits. I think of it when I wake up at oh-dark-thirty, my mind churning over problems I cannot solve. When I'm completely unable to find the off-switch to this psychological chaos and I have to lie there, waiting for the turmoil to subside and sleep to re-claim me, or simply give up, get out of bed and hit the computer to check my email.

Why this happens, I really don't know. Sleep is a strange phenomenon that can produce wonderful dreams and terrible nightmares. I shouldn't be surprised that it can also result in a waking state where the daytime restraints have fallen away and various portions of my hypothalamus are engaged in a light-saber duel with my amigdala. Or something.

It's impossible to control, a surreal time when tiny issues roar their way into massive and crushing worries. When the slew of daily challenges becomes an avalanche, rolling inexorably toward its target - me - with the sole aim of crushing me into oblivion. When sleep is a distant memory and yet wakefulness seems unobtainable. When no matter what I try and focus on, it will twist and writhe into something dark and take me to a place I don't want to go.

Not being Russian (or Jewish, come to think of it), I don't go for the vodka cure. Sometimes a single malt scotch before bed is nice. But nothing will prevent the Wolf from claiming her little portion of my night if she's of a mind to do so. And she's an unpredictable bitch, which is even more annoying, arriving at times that suit her schedule, not mine. I can go weeks without her presence and then...boom. (Yes, boom today, Ivanova.)

I'm hoping that besides Susan (or JMS, since he wrote her words) I'm not the only one with a nighttime wolf. Not the only one staring into her expressionless eyes and struggling to breathe beneath her weight, wondering why the hell I'm here, where I'm going and what I'm going to do to solve all those problems she's just dumped onto my chest. I hope I'm not the only one haunting my computer at some ungodly hour and scaring the crap out of friends far away by posting when I should be sleeping.

In the calm light of another dawning day, it's all silliness. But after dark, when the world falls quiet...my Wolf bitch will howl and wake me. And I freakin' HATE when that happens... LOL

Cheers,
Sahara



~~~~ More Steampunk on the Way from Samhain ~~~~
Miss Minnie and the Brass Pluggit - coming in January 2011

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Time to stand up for our girls!

I've decided to boycott Victoria's Secret. Yep. This is bound to be the first volley in what will turn into a massive world-wide movement against marketing strategies which are guaranteed to send us normal women into brutal depression. I'm thinking VS probably gets their advertising sponsored in part by Xanax or Valium or other mood-enhancing drugs.

Why am I boycotting a company like this? Why am I taking my hard-earned dollars to the mall and NOT spending them in the PINK section? Here's my reasoning.

Victoria's Secret does not use real people in its advertisements. There are perhaps twelve women in the entire US who have legs longer than the Mason Dixon line. They all work for VS. Not real. Those same women also have perky breasts. Now admittedly there are more than twelve of us gals with perky breasts. However SHOWING perky bouncy breasts is an insult to the rest of us who can't manage perky any more and know that "bouncy" just flat out HURTS.

Moving on, and totally bypassing the unreal bee-stung pout most of these "models" like to shove out toward the camera, there's the waist/torso, which is sleek, slender, possesses a skin textured like finest cream and seems to go on until it's a scant millimeter away from full frontal nudity. Goes without saying navels are, of course, always perfect. Are you seeing a pattern here? Getting nauseous? Me too.

Without getting too kinky or perverted, I shall simply cite a complete lack of anything resembling human flesh in the personal area of these women. Their thighs have apparently been spared hair, freckles or any kind of normal skin markings. Their bottoms are all curved symmetrically and perfectly, with butt cheeks that seem to whisper seductive things like "cuddle me", "look at my smoothly protruding globes of delight" and so on.

So yeah. They're frickin' perfect, these women, and they strut, sashay and slither (in heels that would qualify as torture devices in most American homes) across our television screens and onto our massive billboards. Not to mention our mall walls and posters.

Sex sells. I know this. But I have to say that unless VS is selling lingerie to men, it's missing its mark here. What VS is NOT doing is luring me into its store to buy a newly engineered Invisible Supporting Cleavage Enhancing Strappy or Strapless Smooth Cup Lace Covered - wait for it - BRA. It doesn't help that they don't have it in my size. Another point against them. One drawer of anything over 38? C'mon. Really? Really?

Victoria's Secret is telling me that I'm ugly, old, and not worth crap because I don't fit the mold they're pushing as sexy and gorgeous. They're not even taking the time to find models who are MORE like real women and then putting them into VS lingerie - ta da! Sexy and gorgeous. A campaign like that might make me think about buying a piece of their overpriced flutteriness. (Sidebar: VS. Please stop messing with panties, will ya? There are really only so many ways you can change that garment up. Ninety nine percent of those ways are gonna end up making life miserable for those of us who don't care for butt floss.)

So there's my reasoning, my commitment to withhold my dollars (holiday and otherwise) from a company which uses T & A to sell bras and panties. It doesn't work for me and it's gone to the point of being extremely annoying. Sure, keep the catalog. Thousands of young guys are getting their puberty jumpstarted by holding it in one hand. (And probably some older ones who have a weak moment as well.) Their business.

Personally, I don't find almost naked, impossibly perfect, models an encouragement to purchase anything, and I'm completely fed up of looking at them or seeing them sneering at me from the jumbo tv screens at the mall. Panties and bras cover personal places. All our personal places are different. Vive la Difference, Victoria's Secret, isn't it time you celebrated it? (See the Dove/Real Women campaign.)

And you know what? Your bras aren't all that and a bag of chocolate chip cookies, either. The last one I bought developed a hole over the underwire and stabbed me viciously. Which is, undoubtedly, why I'm stabbing back.

Gimme Fredericks of Hollywood any time. At least they respect the fact that the female population isn't composed entirely of 36C's!!!

Sahara

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Flavia's Flying Corset - STEAMPUNK IS HERE - Samhain Publishing
Miss Minnie and the Brass Pluggit - MORE STEAMPUNK - Samhain Publishing (January 2011)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Being a Misfit Toy

It was one of those contemplative moments we all have now and again...an empty room, a feeling that something was shifting somewhere, clicking into place...I realized the true meaning of "Misfit Toy". And although it may have been born at the North Pole, that expression goes a lot further than Rudolph and Santa.

So many of us are Misfit Toys. We certainly spend a lot of our childhood like that. There's the Shrinking Violet Toy, the girl who is so terribly shy she doesn't want anyone to see her. She will always take the back row seats, never be the first to raise her hand and won't let on how much it hurts when she isn't picked for the team until last. When she grows up, she'll be the quiet one, learning to smile to hide the pain, anger and frustration of being always on the outside. She'll be a bridesmaid, a best friend, eventually a wife and a loving mother. But she'll never be the life of the party or the head of the PTA. She'll always be that Misfit Toy, crying on the inside where nobody can see.

Then there's Four Eyes Frightful! The little boy who has to wear glasses three years before anyone else does. Or the little girl with braces that seem to glow all by themselves. They're misfits, all right. They stand out, figures of fun, teased by their peers and tortured by their own inadequacies. Yeah, childhood is the first level of hell for some folks and they carry it with them. As adults, they obsess about their appearance, working hard to be perfect in a world that disdains anything less. Of course, they can never succeed because they set their standards above anything humanly attainable. They're still the Misfit Toys of their childhood, just better clothed.

There are other Misfit Toys, of course. A toy who never did get the love he or she needed when it was needed most. A toy who lost something precious and never learned how to replace it.

A toy that was loved, loved back and then found itself cast aside, to be neglected while new toys moved in and took its place. The It's-Been-Fun Toy.

Is this depressing? Yeah, sure. But honestly? Most of us at one time or another in our lives fall into the Misfit Toy category. I'm a Misfit Toy and recognizing it recently, labeling it as such, helped me get a handle on it. I'm such a shrinking violet if I shrink any more I'll disappear up my own ass. I hate walking into a room full of people, always sit at the back and have to force a smile now and again. I've never been president of the PTA or the life and soul of any party. I also won't let myself care too much because that opens up a vulnerability that can rip your soul out if you're not careful. (Family excepted, of course. They're going to carve you up into strips no matter what you do. Fortunately, they also put you back together again! And you get to return the favor. LOL)

I guess my Misfit Toy Moment helped me adjust my thinking and recognize some of my shortcomings. I'm not about to go out and run for the PTA, but I will try and take a seat in the middle row of life instead of the back. I will try to work through the pain when I'm ignored, excluded or put back into the toy box in favor of others - and yes, it's going to happen again, I know. I won't take it personally when my words or my books fade too quickly for my liking. I will remember that there are good things about me that don't fit into the Misfit Toy category and I'll try and focus on those.

If all this fails miserably, then I will spend the next week writing some of the most hellishly horrible, gut-wrenchingly violent murder scenes I can possibly imagine. I will rip bodies apart, scatter intestines across continents and produce enough blood spatter to make a seasoned Forensic scientist throw up. And I'm absolutely positive that'll make me feel much better.(Grin)

Cheers,
Sahara
Honorary Chairwoman, Local Chapter of Misfit Toys

~~~~~~~~~~
Flavia's Flying Corset - Coming in November from Samhain Publishing

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Getting What We Deserve - Mid Terms and Apathy

By now, most US residents have realized that something's afoot in the political world. That something's called "Mid Terms" and it refers to the elections that come half way between Presidential ones. To many of us, they're not as important as the biggie, but to those running for something - well, they're right up there with the Day of Judgement and the invention of stretch jeans. i.e. Life changing events.

Whether you're Democrat, Republican, Independent, Tea Party or Sam Adams Party (that's the one for college kids who are ready for a revolution but too drunk to start one), there's probably a candidate out there somewhere just aching to get your vote. The hitch? You (and your vote) don't really care very much. That particular Tuesday it might be raining and you got your hair done on Monday. Or it's the day you water your plants, shampoo your cat, change the batteries in your smoke detector and/or chat with the mailman. In other words, it's too damn inconvenient to plonk your ass into your car and drive to the polling place where you probably can't park, have to push through throngs of placard-holding cheerleaders, none of whom support your party, and generally mess up your day.

Nah. Why the hell bother? It's only an election for the local dog catcher/town manager/comptroller. With a line item for governor and state rep. Just local crap and you're sick of the tv ads by now anyway. You've tuned them out for the last three months because...well, there was Halloween candy calling your name during commercial breaks. And the ultimate persuader? You live in North BlanketyBlank, a state that's been voting in Democrats since before you were a twinkle in your Democratic father's eye. What does one more vote matter?

Well, guess what? All your Democratic fellows are thinking the same thing. You'll see 'em filling the mall or doing the usual Tuesday things. And the result...drum roll please... a REPUBLICAN gets elected, because the Democrats had a thing...and didn't make it to the polls.

Yes, we get the politicians we deserve, my friends. Those of us who couldn't be bothered to take fifteen minutes and register our political sentiments deserved to get an elected official who will be voting in exactly the opposite way we'd wanted. We could have made a difference if apathy hadn't raised it's ugly head.

So this time around, when mid-term voting day arrives, I'm gonna do my best to get out to the polls and register my preferences. At least then I'll know the politician I get is either the one I deserve or the one I ended up with because the rest of my fellow voters are idiots.

Not really comforting, but then again, how else do you explain the Senate?

Please vote. Remember there's a whole lotta places on the face of this planet where voting is a rare freedom. Places where voters run the risk of being attacked and beaten - or worse. Where women still can't vote at all.

Doesn't matter to me who you vote FOR. What does matter is that you do it. We might not have much to celebrate when it comes to the Federal Government these days (I support the First Dog Party myself), and most of us are sick and tired of all the negativity, failure to accomplish anything halfway useful and the fact that the economy is stuck in the mud like a tractor with two flat tires on a rainy day. Maybe one vote won't change this - but then again one vote might just be the pebble that started the avalanche. And perhaps that vote will be yours...

Cheers,
Sahara Kelly

~~~~~~~~~~
FLAVIA'S FLYING CORSET - coming from Samhain Publishing - November, 2010

~~~

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Are we REALLY that sick????

Every now and again, hubby and I like to play a game - no, not the one with the feather and the Hoover, you pervs - this one is "If I was an Alien watching TV". It's an interesting challenge, sitting in front of the flat-screen and watching through the eyes of someone who knows little or nothing about the human race.

So if you're in the mood, try it during the evening network news. (We like Brian Williams on NBC. His nose is a tad crooked, but he dresses extremely well.) The news, of course, varies daily. What doesn't change? THE COMMERCIALS.

Yes folks, as a species, we're sicker'n a dog who just ate four raw chickens!!! I lost count of the number of pharmaceutical ads that interrupted my political reports. We started with the tried-and-true. Cholesterol lowering drugs mean no heart attacks, if you believe the pink cartoon graphics. Then we moved on to the dry-eye folks (let us cry for you!!!) and so that you could get some use out of those new tears, there was an ad for depression medication - subtitled "Even your dog looks miserable". Actually, I think it was an additional depression medication you could use along with your old depression medication. Depressed yet? I was after sitting through that lot! No wonder the pups had "hang-dog" faces. (Sorry. That one just had to be said.)

But we had just begun our chemical journey. Let's go inside this delightful human body of ours. Heartburn? Yep, that's covered in several ways, all with depictions of the unattractively shaped human stomach. There's a reason it's INSIDE us, folks.

The digestive system gets a euphemistic selection of pharmaceutical products, of course. Bluntly put, if you fart, we can help. Can't shit? No problem. Got the runs? There's something for that too. If you've got all that, please refer to the depression medication advertised earlier. And don't forget the toilet-paper commercial, thoughtfully inserted around sixteen or seventeen minutes into the broadcast by some clear-headed, squeaky-clean-bottomed ad exec. The one who spends his weekends dressed as a bear, running around the forest picking bits of TP off his arse. Ad Execs thrive on this kind of marketing research, I hear.

Ditto the urinary incontinence issues suffered by women - represented by copper tubing figures. Cute ad, but I'm not sure what message this is sending. Plumbers, however, must adore it. Let's not forget the gentlemen who are shown dashing from their golf games, wincing as their BPE kicks in. Whether they can blame their lousy game on their glands, I don't know, but I'll bet some have tried. ("Hell, Joe. I'd have birdied fourteen if it hadn't been for my damn prostate...")

So we're depressed, dry-eyed, heartburn sufferers. We have issues with elimination, flatulence - and let's not forget Restless Leg Syndrome and Athlete's Foot. Now we're covered head-to-toe. I happened to see a new one the other night...REPLACEMENT KNEES. Now that's something I'll definitely be looking for next time I hit the drugstore.

We have pharmaceuticals to help us quit smoking (the side effects are going to send you right back to the depression meds) and we can't go much further without mentioning the grand-daddy of 'em all... Erectile Dysfunction pills and their wondrous threat of four-hour erections.

If someone can tell me the subliminal significance of the two-bathtub symbol in the Cialis ad, I'd be grateful. For me, ONE bathtub would work better in this setting. Unless that's one HELL of a pill and creates not only four hours of arousal, but three feet of length as well. The euphemisms in these ads are hysterical. Nobody's naked, of course. But apparently, there's a lot of drug use going on - see the kitchen turning into a leafy glade, or the laundry room into a beach shack hideaway. Last time that happened to me was back in the late 70's. I hadn't inhaled, either.

Are we really THAT sick? Do we need this almost endless parade of "better living through chemistry" commercials for every medical condition your doctor can diagnose? Or is it just that the pharmaceutical industry is pretty much the only one that can afford to buy 30 seconds on prime time news? If that's the case, I vote we take up a collection for the Dutch tulip industry. Let's see 30 seconds of windmills and pretty flowers. And not think about gas, the bathroom or suicidal tendencies.

I forgot one - the automobile ad. There's always one or two. After all, how are we going to get to our physician's office for prescriptions for all those drugs?

Cheers and happy chemical imbalance day,
Sahara Kelly

~~~~~~~~~~
Demons are a Ghoul's Best Friend (as Wynne Hayworth) - Samhain Publishing - October
Flavia's Flying Corset - Samhain Publishing - November
Miss Minnie and the Brass Pluggit - Samhain Publishing - January 2011

_________

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Getting the LOOK (not the stares of shock!)

I make no apologies for being a "girly" type woman. I like girly things. No, my house isn't pink (although I do have some small pink Christmas trees), and I don't have a little pink poof of a dog. I'll leave that sort of thing to the Barbara Cartland wannabes. However, I like pretty dresses. I like the feel of silk on my skin and I'm fascinated by really expensive lingerie. I don't buy it, of course, because really expensive lingerie only comes in size "Not with that butt, toots".

So when I decided a while ago that it was time I developed a "style" for myself that didn't include t-shirts with coffee stains on them, ancient sweatpants dating back to the fall of Rome and a couple of hubby's shirts, I asked myself how I really wanted to dress. And you know something? That's a VERY tough question to answer truthfully.

It's much too easy to say, well I'm a housewife (or writer) who is mostly at home. I don't do fancy dinner parties, red-carpet events or charity balls. So I shouldn't be thinking of myself in sweeping gowns, chiffon or sparklies.

Then I paused and thought - why the hell NOT??? Just because I go to the supermarket a gazillion times more than I go to evening parties doesn't mean I should live in jeans. Just because I sit in front of my computer for many hours (which explains the cotton clad butt and lack of expensive lingerie) doesn't demand I populate my closets with workout gear.

Au contraire, my friends. I had an epiphany. I CAN get the look I want. The softly romantic, ultra feminine ME that lurks beneath the ten-year-old baseball shirt. I'm not going to chuck the practical stuff, but I am going to add the odd piece of flirtatious fashion now and again. Why? Because it will make ME feel GOOD. And I don't think there's a darn thing wrong with that.

So...if you're into the girly stuff, read on. If you're not, then you might want to wave bye-bye before you get a bit nauseous. But if you yearned for one or two of Rose's gowns from Titanic; if you've got a bit of Faery in you and have been known to flit about when you're alone trailing a sheer from your laundry basket behind you, then stick with me. Because I'd like to introduce you to a designer you're gonna love.

Her name is Nataya. I believe she's Russian, and all you have to do is Google her to find out her life story. I didn't, simply because it's her designs that have enthralled me, not her private life, which I believe should be her own.

She presents collections that make a girly-girl weep. Soft pastels with a detour into black or berry shades. The occasional lavender or accent color lifting a dress into the realm of spectacular. Mostly dresses, Nataya turns her hand to creations which exemplify the true spirit of everything feminine - hugging curves without strangling them, floating around legs in a graceful way reminiscent of those wonderful 1930's gowns. Take a look at her website to get a better idea. Pretty neat stuff, huh?

And yes, many of these come in "women's sizes", (i.e. human sized) so there's usually something for everyone. Now there's a hefty price tag on most of these clothes - they're unique and I'm not surprised to see them cost more than something off the rack at Macy's. However, with some diligence, you may get lucky and find one or two Nataya dresses or outfits on eBay. I lucked into a shawl recently - a rare find since most of them are no longer available. It takes time and patience, but the buys are out there.

If you're eager enough to pursue them, here's one place I absolutely recommend. The Romance of Yesteryear offers a delicious assortment of Nataya dresses, and the prices on many of them are much more reasonable. Since Nataya presents new collections each year, you'll find previous years' dresses marked down. And how can you tell? You can't. They're all gorgeous. The folks at this website are helpful, shipping is rapid and their communications are great. I've bought several items now and I heartily recommend you check them out. No, I don't get a kickback - I wish I did. LOL This is just for those who love to "waft", as much as I do. There ain't a damn thing wrong with wafting now and again.

And let's face it, you just can't waft effectively in sweatpants!

Happy girl time,
Sahara



P.S. The Romance of Yesteryear also has everything from teacups to sealing wax to velvet corsets, so even if you don't want to look at the Nataya collection, I bet you'll find something else really neat!!! Gotta love websites like this. They validate the usefulness of the Internet a helluva lot better than all those XXX mudpuddles, IMHO.

~ ~ ~ ~

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Random Musings on Fun, the Fourth - and FOOD

Did you ever wonder why so many of our holidays are associated with food? Is it simply the fact that certain things require harvesting, therefore we make sure they're part of a certain holiday? (This works for ham and fresh green things in the spring for Easter and cranberries for Thanksgiving. So why isn't there a holiday associated with those endless bags of zucchini that your neighbors inundate you with?)

Of course traditional meals are lovely - part and parcel of our heritage, whatever that may be. Brits certainly cling to the tried and true...sausage rolls, mince pies and Christmas pudding, for example. And here in the USA, nothing says Independence Day like the smell of barbecue...hot dogs, steaks, chicken...anything that can be slathered in sauce and doesn't slip through the bars of the grill. (Okay, something always does, but what the heck. It's the Fourth of July. Leave the lid off and something will come and eat it. It's the circle of life, new millennium style. Burned chicken bits + a crow or two after the grill cools down = happy birds.)

However, in this day and age of the latest diet, the fact that untold millions of us are currently obese and we acknowledge the health risks of that extra avoirdupois, I have to wonder why The Powers That Be (i.e. Madison Avenue and/or Apple, which can i-everything these days) haven't begun to steer us away from the baked beans and potato salad so beloved of party goers on July Fourth. Where are the soy-substitutes? The mounds of pretend potato salad that couldn't find Idaho on a map or recognize real mayonnaise if it fell on 'em? Don't even get me started on "fat-free lite" mayonnaise. My adjectives pertaining to that little mess of unpronounceable chemical components...well, they start with "eeeeuuuwww" and go downhill from there.

Yes, I'm sure there are healthy folks out there planning on barbecuing a fat Portobello mushroom and pretending it's a hamburger. (After their morning five mile run, of course.) Er... I ain't one of 'em. As far as I'm concerned, a fungus on a bun is a science experiment not a meal. Making healthy "substitutes" is all well and good. But now and again, I ask myself why we've come to make these associations in the first place, and I'm coming up short of answers.

I don't know why we eat baked beans on July Fourth. The cans are ripe? I'm not a cowboy out of Blazing Saddles, so a need to produce methane has nothing to do with it. And I sure as heck don't know why potato salad (which I adore, btw) is such a big summer hit, since it's made with mayo and will go off if the temperature goes up, resulting in a nasty case of summer tummy. Wouldn't it have been smarter to make a salad with all the good fresh green stuff and a boatload of those first fresh red tomatoes? Then insist that it's "Independence Salad" and toss in some chunks of white cheese and a few blueberries. Patriotic goodness in a bowl.

It's odd, really, this incredibly solid connection we humans have made between our celebrations and the food we serve at them. There are lots of GOOD reasons, I know. Ones that are logical. But every now and again one or two of these associations sneak up on me and smirk, daring me to figure them out. Usually when I'm in the supermarket wondering who would, in fact, BUY twenty cans of baked beans for such a low sum of money. And why another shopper is apparently rushing to collect as many jars of dehydrated things-she-can't-pronounce as she can get. Remind me to pass on the potato salad at her house.

So I will follow my own holiday traditions when it comes to food. Basically if someone else cooks it, it's probably wonderful. And if somebody else cleans up afterwards - it's a gourmet meal fit for a king. I'm a woman of simple tastes and I'll keep on scarfing up the potato salad on July Fourth because I love potato salad and it makes me feel festive. I just need to stop asking myself why, and make sure that's the ONLY day I scarf up potato salad. Maybe that's the next big diet...only eat certain foods on certain holidays.

Betcha there'll be a lot more holidays appearing soon if this diet catches on. And none of them will involve those damn zucchini....

Happy Independence Day,
Sahara
~~~~~~~~

Flavia's Flying Corset by Sahara Kelly
A new steampunk story, coming November 30th, 2010, from Samhain Publishing; part of the "Silk, Steel and Steam" anthology.

- - -

Monday, June 14, 2010

Farting butterflies and eco-disaster!

It's probable that we're nearing the point where almost everything that needs to be said about the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been said. And by more informed folks than myself.

But last night I saw the first story that told me I wasn't the only one looking further down this road than the immediate terrible situation. Yes, it's beyond words...especially to those impacted financially; those whose livelihood and tradition depend on the sea. Unspeakably horrible and my heart goes out to them.

The two features which caught my attention concerned other areas of the country and not, at first, the Gulf. Being a New Englander, I found myself listening to the wonderful Yankee accent of a Gloucester fisherman. He was talking about the joy and the passion of his life - sailing out to fish for Atlantic bluefin tuna, the massive creature so valued by sushi lovers everywhere. Well, guess what? This critter spawns in the warm waters of the Gulf. When? NOW!!!!

Tests are underway to determine if the ongoing spill will contaminate, or worse, kill the tiny hatchlings. If it does...then you can see the ripple effect. Bluefin tuna will be reduced in numbers and another offshoot of this disaster will hit another group of fishermen hard.

The other story was from scientists who are worried about the birds. The ones that migrate south each fall. My hubby, who was listening to this, rolled his eyes and pointed out that people's very lives were affected. Surely birds came lower on the list of things to worry about right now.

Then, as we discussed it, we realized this entire event could well be the first domino to fall in a global crash of unimaginable proportions. The birds, who fly south for the winter and depend on the creatures living in the Gulf marshes for sustenance, die out. Or at least have their numbers seriously diminished. So next spring, less white-breasted twitterers. (Or whatever they are. You get my point here.) Those little fellas love nothing more than to snack on...let's say...mosquitoes. But now, there's not so many hungry whitebreasts, hence there's a buttload more bugs. Same for caterpillars, moths, tree-munching whatevers...and so on.

Going back to mosquitos, we're faced with miserable picnics, and worse. Various diseases are too easily spread. Suppose the tick population expands due to lack of hungry birds. Lyme disease anyone? See where I'm going here?

No matter how we bemoan the current state of the Gulf and this god-awful spill, it could - and possibly will - get a bazillion times worse as we move through this year, next year and into the foreseeable future. Nothing like this happens in a vacuum. Its effects will be long-lasting and far-reaching, make no mistake.

Yes, it's the "farting butterfly" theory. And I'm very very afraid it won't be theory for much longer.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Yes, I'd like some FRY with that.....

I'll confess, I'm not a big twitterer. You won't find me chirping from the branches of trees morning, noon, late afternoon or anytime after dark. Mostly because I'm boring and don't have anything to tweet about. (Not that that particular concern stops others, but I digress...)

Of course, when I first succumbed to the whole tweet-thing, I found some favorite celebrities and followed them. Big whoop there. Most of 'em shut the hell up within two days of my becoming a follower. Look guys, I'm NOT a stalker, okay? You were up there...you asked for it. Fortunately, one or two have stuck it out - nay, gone further with it than I'd ever expected.

The erudite, witty and truly amazing Stephen Fry is one of them. You simply HAVE to go check this chap out!!!

If his name doesn't immediately ring a bell, here's a hint or two. For the past couple of seasons he's played a psychiatrist/chef on BONES, counseling Booth after the clown-shooting incident. And, I venture to say, adding a soupcon of freshness to that series. Something it BADLY needs. (Sorry. Digressing again.) Not a BONES fan? How about BLACKADDER? Rowan Atkinson snabbled both Stephen Fry and his long-time cohort, Hugh Laurie (yeah, House!!) as players in the Blackadder series. And if you've missed THIS, go rent it. You're in for a treat!

So, with luck, you're now up to speed on Stephen Fry. But wait...as they say...there's more.

Exxhibiting his innate brilliance, Mr. Fry has not shunned the Internet, but embraced it with big sloppy kisses. He tweets regularly - and this man leads an interesting life. A shining example of who should and who shouldn't tweet regularly. I don't think he's baked cookies since I've been following him. He has a website, a blog, a facebook page and has now developed an app for iPads - probably also for iPhones. Not sure about that. He's way ahead of the curve in things technical.

He's unashamed of his fascination with beeping, flashing, smooth and shiny things. He enjoys his iPad, seems to be extraordinarily comfortable with his iPhone but also has other brands as well. His blog is literate, a delight to read...for those of us who prefer our words to be spelled out in more than two letters and an alphanumeric symbol...and an enchanting break from the mundane.

He's also very funny indeed, in that delightfully British way. His humor is subtle, intelligent, gentle and occasionally draws blood with the most delicate of cuts. Am I going to sound like a snob if I say it's really wonderful to read a blog written by someone who isn't afraid of the English language? I hope not, because that's not my intention. But when I devoured his comments about all things Apple recently, I was struck by the lucid and flowing prose. The genuine appreciation of how words can be arranged to present an elegant argument.

I laughed, nodded and frowned occasionally. I read all three pages (no pictures at all). I realized how much I'd missed the joy of literary creativity. There wasn't one mundane oath or textual abbreviation. It was not unlike standing at the edge of the Atlantic ocean after a year of paddling in a child's back garden pool.

Yes, I do like Stephen Fry. As a writer, a performer and a Tweeter. (Not sure if that's the right word because it sounds like Woofer should be in there somewhere. Sigh.)

If you're looking to freshen your palate and rediscover a rapidly-fading age where words really mattered, check him out. I'll post the link below.

And that's why I'd really like some FRY with just about everything!

Cheers,
Sahara Kelly
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Website of Stephen Fry, writer, actor, humorist
http://www.stephenfry.com/

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Friday, May 14, 2010

RT - Another Time-warping Surreal Delight!

I've postulated more than once that RT Conventions do something horridly complex to the space-time continuum. A wormhole emerges that distorts our perceptions of reality, we approach the Event Horizon clutching our Schwartzchild knockoff purses and before we know it we're dumped back into the rather mundane existence which comprises 99% of our everyday lives.

But ooooh...that one percent ride!!!

This year's convention in Columbus was no different. Eleven months of preparation, a day of traveling (URGH) and then whoosh!!! Friends, laughter, fun, rushing hither and yon for coffee, drinks, bagels and seminar rooms. Changing shoes, grabbing a quick shower, figuring out which floor the next event was on and then going the wrong way to get there. Costumes and booksignings, agendas and handouts, loud nights at the bar and quiet mornings with hungover buddies as we all attempted to return to our "human" selves with massive infusions of Einstein's/Starbucks' caffeine.

Is there an adequate way to describe an RT Convention? I really don't think so because it's something different for each attendee. Authors go with one goal in mind, aspiring authors another. Readers - yet another. Librarians, publishers, booksellers, everyone is a card-carrying devotee of the written word, yet all bring their own interests with them. It makes for a wonderfully rich stew, seasoned with smiles and with a large pinch of laughter along with a heaping helping of camaraderie.

There are always ups and downs, gossip flies, some friends miss each other, others can't make it at the last minute. Love affairs probably rise and fall, and of course there are the eternally lovely cover models to look at. It's all part of what makes RT so unique. This year's convention was no exception. An excitingly full attendance, some new names, and a centrally located bar - truly a recipe for a great time.

And yes, I had a really great time on so many levels. For me, the agenda begins and ends with seeing friends again and making new ones. Of course I'm happy to talk books, but I can do that anytime, either in person or online. What I can't do is reach out and touch a reader. Hug a friend until they squeak. I can't lean up against a warm shoulder when I'm tired and know that shoulder feels the same way I do about romance novels. (And if I'm lucky will either buy me another drink or make sure I get to my room WITH both my shoes! LOL)

Being one of the unlucky ones who came home with the "Convention crud", I spent the post-RT crash week sneezing, coughing and heavily medicated. Perhaps that's a good way to get through the depression that seems to hit in the aftermath. But that's simply a reflection of what a great time I had. And of course I can't wait for next year!!!

I'm going to Los Angeles, unless the Fates conspire against me in some dire fashion. I've never been there, so that's an added incentive. But most of all? I'll be there hugging, laughing, drinking and doing some more hugging.

Because humans need that personal touch. And writers need that "reader-touch" to keep them smiling and motivated. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Cheers,
Sahara

(Thankfully off most of the medications!!!)

~~~~~~

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'm lovin' my CASTLE

Yeah, I watch TV. Not a lot, but now and again when something catches my attention, or it's cold or I'm not in the mood to do anything else. I have my favorite shows and am not shy when truthfully saying I've never watched an episode of Survivor, Idol or any other reality show. Not my thing.

But last year I ran across a program with a FABULOUS GRAPHIC. Okay, sounds silly, but I saw it run on the promos and it just made me drool. I want a graphic like that. So out of curiosity I watched the show. It's called "CASTLE" and stars Nathan Fillion. He's well known to all you rabid Firefly fans as Captain Mal Reynolds.

I know it's silly to watch a show based on its graphic intro, but I'm so glad I did. This is one funny, delightful, realistic and well-acted program. It had me from episode One and I've been a fan ever since. We're well into the second season and thus far I haven't found a think I don't like about it. Is it deeply thought-provoking? No. Is it rich with amazingly unique plots? No again.

So what the hell is it about this show that gets me turning off the phone on Monday nights and hunkering down with popcorn/cookies/snacks for an hour? It's the characters! Everyone - right from the start - is pitch-perfect! Led by Nathan Fillion as mystery writer Richard Castle. He's sweet, funny, endearing, occasionally brilliant and with masterfully subtle touches of a twelve-year-old in a candy store, he gleefully runs amok in the NY precinct squad room to the irritation/amusement of his "partner" Detective Kate Beckett. There's not one bad thing about Castle the character. Brilliant writing and perfect acting.

The rest of the cast meets and occasionally exceeds this brilliance. Kate Beckett is a complex character. As she says at one point "So many layers to the Beckett onion" - and she's right. But it's taken time for us to learn about some of those layers and there are more still ahead. She's clearly fighting her attraction to Castle, but never forgets the case even while teasing him with some of her outrageous comments. Her team, Ryan and Esposito, along with Forensics gal Lainey (some of the best silent looks on the show!!) all round out this great program with style. Each is a mini-star, together they create magic!

I bought the DVD of the first season. I have all the current episodes on my DVR. When I'm feeling the need for a smile, I head over to any show in my Castle library. It's great writing, perfect acting and leaves me feelin' GOOD. This, IMHO, is ENTERTAINMENT. Which is what TV used to be all about. Somewhere along the long road of reality shows, celebrities and recycled medical dramas, producers forgot the original idea behind putting a mini-cinema into people's living rooms.

I'm so glad the CASTLE production team remembered and have produced an hour of TV that I find worth watching. And yes, I bought the book by "Richard Castle", a brilliantly developed tie-in to the show. Again, outstanding ideas and my congrats to whoever came up with that little gem.

So check out this promo for season two and if you're not doing anything next Monday night, watch CASTLE. Let's face it, Horatio Caine and his ever-present sunglasses have gotten a bit passe, don't you think? (And don't miss that LOGO!!! Drooooool.....)



Cheers,
Sahara

~~~~~

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Now that I have an iPad, does it mean I have iPMS too?

Forgive me folks, for I have sinned and caved to the marketing mega-machine that is Apple.I have an iPad. It was delivered, as promised, on Saturday. That's a miracle in and of itself, since Saturday deliveries by UPS tend to be as scarce as hen's teeth. You can imagine the welcoming grin on my face when the cheerful chappie in the brown shorts made his way up my driveway and delivered my package into my eagerly outstretched arms. He looked happy too. I guess I wasn't the first i-addict he'd visited that day.

So there it is...neat, small, and working right out of the box, syncing to my iMac with glee. It is polite. "Would you like to connect to your network?" "Congratulations. Would you like to register your new iPad?" Chatty courtesies that - with one click - resulted in instant internet and several more congratulatory emails from Apple welcoming me to the iPad family. A really cool interface, not unlike an iPhone on steroids, which tends to mesmerize the unwary into playing, tapping, squeezing and spreading images, web pages..whatever...all over the touch screen. Which, after an hour or so of this, starts looking a bit like I just ate fried chicken off it, but that's a minor issue, easily fixed by a quick swipe with a sweatshirt or whatever's handy. Screen schmutz is an i-hazard familiar to anyone with an iPhone. (Do not talk on the iPhone if you've just moisturized your face. Bleeeech!!!)

All that aside, I love the damn thing. For me, it's perfect. Would I write a book on it? No. Would I make notes about a book on it...absolutely. Would I read a book on it? Without a doubt. Haven't bought one yet, but that's next on the to-do list. Right now I'm checking apps (adore the Magic Piano one!!) and learning how to get it all set up the way I want it. There's a few drawbacks, and a few things I need, like a case and a camera accessory. I plan on traveling with it and downloading photos into it. The screen lives up to Apple's extraordinary standards - crisp and fabulous. I can SEE the keyboard and don't have to worry quite so much about fat thumb syndrome, which plagues me when I try texting from my iPhone. I'm getting used to the "touch", developing a rather sophisticated swipe and am very proud of myself for discovering all kinds of neat things we can do together.

I'm sure the iPad isn't for everyone. Hubby snorted and rolled his eyes. For him, it wouldn't work at all, and I understand that. But for those of us who wear the label "gadget whore" proudly and who need a portable, small device for email and fun, this is just the ticket. I'm glad I saved up from the grocery money and bought it. Not because I think Steve Jobs needed the cash, but because it's the first time I've ever made a purchase like this - impulsive, self-serving and unnecessary. I probably won't ever do it again.

But dang. I'm sure glad I did. And yes, when I get pissed off, I'm now described as having iPMS. Which is pretty much the same as regular PMS but with better resolution. LOL

Cheers,
Sahara


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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sahara's Suggestions for Additional Health Care Reforms

We've been inundated recently with a whole lot of flapdoodle about Health Care Reform. Most of it was overactive hyperbole spouted by folks standing in front of the media and announcing themselves as "speaking for the American people", which...IMHO...is bullshit because they sure weren't speaking for ME, and I'm an American person.

However, I do have a few ideas on how to raise some cash to help defray the costs of making this country a healthier place for all of us.

Addendum Number One.

Every time a physician uses the phrase "lose weight and exercise more", they should be fined $1000.00. Without exception. I'd agree to knocking off 10% for those few doctors who actually make useful suggestions on how to accomplish this. But for the most part, simply being told to eat less and exercise more is frustrating for both parties. If it really was that easy, we'd all be wearing size 8 dresses.

Addendum Number Two.

Charge for the use of three little words. Lay another fine on every physician who uses the phrase "at your age" to a patient over...twenty? Double that fine when it is followed by "we really should do the XXXXX test." (XXXX stands for everything that is mandated by age, rather than patient history/family history/or current symptoms.) Let's stop this process of treating patients by the calendar. Statistical medicine should be low in importance when measured against the real patients, sitting with their fannies wafting in the breeze and looking their doctor in the eye. Obviously mammograms and pap tests should be encouraged, and yes...age is a factor. But once a baseline has been established, let's not rush right on to the next stage simply because some invisible age barrier has been crossed. Let's look at the PATIENT, not the calendar.

Addendum Number Three.

Initiate a civil lawsuit against whoever designed patient johnnies. The snaps never work, the paper ones rip if you look at them the wrong way and you still end up mostly naked and embarrassed, with bits of torn tissue adhering to places you can't reach without an enormous degree of awkwardness. Demand $100.00 from the manufacturers for every patient who has to wear one, add another fifty bucks fee if it's paper and it rips, and require the company managers to spend one day a week in 'em. Guarantee the design will improve.


Addendum Number Four


Fines for the following misdemeanors. $20.00 for every fifteen minutes past the time of your appointment that you're kept waiting. $50.00 for each copy of Golf Digest you see in the waiting room, and an additional fine of $25.00 if their copy of People Magazine is more than a month old and you've already read it. A $100.00 fine if you see a copy of "Parents" magazine and you're in the waiting room of anything but a Pediatrician. Odds are good you wouldn't be a parent again if someone held a gun to your head.

Last but not least..

Any health care plan that offers on-line assistance but makes it impossible to either log in or find said assistance is fined $25,000. This is inexcusable in this day and age when teenagers text with two fingers and tweet with three others, simultaneously. There's no reason a health care provider can't produce a log-in page that works or links that actually take you somewhere you need to go. Shame on you folks. We're sure as hell paying you enough to hire a decent website designer.

So there they are, a few of my thoughts about continuing to reform Health Care. It'll probably never be a perfect system, nor will it satisfy everyone. (Attn: Republicans. Stop trying to mess up progress, please. We didn't like everything you did, either.) Overall, we've got a good system going, but there's room for improvement. I hope Congress will take note of my suggestions. If not, I'd like to see THEM in those johnnies for a day.

Or maybe not...

Sahara

~~~

Saturday, January 30, 2010

About this Blog...

My name is Sahara Kelly and I'm a writer. Mostly of erotic fiction, with emphasis on the romance. However, that's not all I do. Occasionally I think about other things, and that's why this blog has a title I unabashedly stole from Monty Python.

You won't find bookcovers here. No reviews, raves, promo or gushing about how great my current release is (which is, of course, code for "go out and buy the damn thing"). If you want to know about my books - which I hope you do - my website link is here for your convenience. This may make me one of the few writers on the web who isn't plugging everything she's written in the last geological era to readers who are probably about as fed up with it all as I am. Personally, I'm charmed to discover other folks out there who write as a profession but do, from time to time, lift their heads out of their stories and look around them. Sure, they may be blinking like a deer in the headlights, but what the hell. At least they're looking at life outside their books.

That's what this blog will be about. Life, the Universe - and everything! (Thank you, Douglas Adams.) It's for people who want a chuckle, enjoy a good rant now and again, and have a working awareness of how we live our lives. For people who read all genres of literature, not just erotic fiction. Even people who wouldn't read erotic fiction if you held a loaded gun to their heads. It's for people who watch CNN as well as the Food Network. For those who've never heard of American Idol to those with pictures of Simon Cowell in their bedrooms. (God help you!) I hope to entertain many of you and most likely offend more than a few.

Please comment. Flip me the verbal bird if you feel like it or tell me why you agree. I'm a believer in the First Amendment, but remember this is a public venue. Free speech doesn't include peppering a post with obscenties. Especially if you're NOT making a point. I reserve the right to shoot those into File 13. (Translation: delete the suckers.)

So here it is, in all it's shiny glory - an artistic match for my website. I note that I don't have as much hair as I did when that profile pic was taken, since a lot got ripped out during the creation of both website and this blog. Sigh. It'll grow back, I guess.

Cheers,
Sahara